Published on September 16th, 2019 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. Danbury
Danbury entered the 2019 season brimming with confidence.
A young Hatter team reached the finals of the FCIAC tournament last fall, losing a one-goal game late to Trumbull, in a scintillating match. With most starters returning — including the entire back line anchored by Tyler Warren, All-New England last year as a junior — Danbury was the consensus pick to win the league this fall, and challenge for the state title.
Staples entered the 2019 season with confidence, but question marks. The Wreckers are a fast, attacking team. They defend well, and together. But only 3 starters were in last year’s starting lineup. In a competitive preseason, against top foes, they were up and down. Friday’s season opener, a 4-1 win against Central, did not test their mettle.
Danbury did. And the Westporters stood up well.
The match was played under a hot sun at Mill Ridge Primary School (the Hatters’ high school turf is being renovated). Staples’ lineup featured a few changes from Friday. Midfielder Jack Douglas is out for the season with a torn ACL. His spot was taken by Benny Feuer, while Carter Bassler earned a start at left back. Patricio Perez Elorza was also in midfield, after sitting out the Central game.
The squad was strong on the transition. The backs — Bassler, Brendan Lynch and Josh DeDomenico — stepped up well together, on Surya Balaji’s command. Evan Birns juked his way through early; he then sent Lars Djuve in on goal. George Smith was in the mix too, on offense.
The Wreckers — playing hard, team-oriented soccer, won plenty of 50-50 balls at midfield. They found Alan Fiore, Sam Liles and Murilo Moreno on the flanks, and utilized their speed.
But the hosts were equal to the challenge. Their backs bent but never broke. The back-and-forth, tough but exciting first half ended scoreless.
Five minutes after play resumed — with the same up-and-down rhythm — Danbury broke through. A giveaway from the back ended with Lucas Oliviera rounding the keeping and scoring.
Staples came right back. Keeper Matthew Silva made a superb stop on Alan Fiore; 10 minutes later, he stopped a direct kick.
At the other end, Wrecker goalie Reed Caney came out hard on a breakaway, forcing a shot wide.
Perez Elorza and Fiore teamed up minutes later; the ball just rolled out of bounds.
Meanwhile, the Hatters worked the ball quickly and methodically upfield. They swing it around expertly out of the back, and exploited the smallest seams. That tested Staples — especially when they took off a defender, and added a man up top — but the blue-and-whites aced the test.
Caney handled several shots cleanly. And when — with 8 minutes to play — Feuer’s bicycle kick sailed just high, everyone on both sides knew the match was far from over.
But then, it was. Staples’ pressure failed to produce a goal. Danbury kept possession long enough, and penetrated deep enough, to keep the Wreckers honest. When the final horn sounded — after several players on both sides had cramped up — everyone knew they’d been in a battle.
The Hatters were 3 points closer to a return to the FCIAC tournament. Staples had 0 points to show for their effort. But they knew that if they continued to play with the focus, grit and team play they showed today, they too might be a postseason contender. FINAL SCORE: Danbury 1, Staples 0. SEASON RECORD: 1-1-0.
QUICK KICKS: Danbury outshot Staples 10-6. Each team had 1 corner kick….
The reserves lost 3-2 to Danbury. Will Adams scored both goals, with an assist from Reese Watkins….
The freshmen fell 1-0 to Danbury. Keeper Steve Divino made what coach Chris O’Dell calls “one of the best saves I have ever seen at the freshman level — but so did the Danbury goalie.” Hunter Smith and Ben Douglas had strong games in the back, while Josh Deitch manned the middle of the field.